"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pedicures, Triathlons, and Monks in Minnesota

No wonder I'm restless at night... thoughts swimming through my brain!

I just paid my husband $40 to give me a manicure and pedicure, and I'm thrilled. He's been giving me pedicures for a while now, because we don't usually have the money for me to indulge in that luxury. It's been one of his many sacrifices for me. But this week, I'm going on a trip, and I'd gathered some money that we agreed I could use for a "just-this-once" splurge. But when it came time to do this thing I'd been looking forward too--I just didn't want to. Truth be told, I've kinda come to enjoy that time with my husband-- we talk and giggle, and he's meticulous enough that he does a great job. I know he would've done it if I couldn't pay him, but everyone needs some money they can call their own from time to time. $40 at the salon would've bought me an hour of relaxation and pretty toes-- but the places I can afford, I usually feel uncomfortable in. $40 at DH'S "At-Home Nail Spa"-- well that bought me a whole evening of time with my husband and pretty toes (and fingers!)

I had a dream last night that I was finally doing this triathlon (and save for there not actually being any water for us to swim in...which led to a rather funny scene where folks where making the motions of the breaststoke on dry land), the dream was great. In the dream, I felt like how I imagine serious runners to feel...blissful, like they're flying. But only once have I even had a glimpse of that feeling while I was running. For me, running is forcing myself to take just one more step...over and over and over. The triathlon is Sept 25, and my motivation has completely flagged. I don't know whether it's the heat or maybe I've lost sight of that adrenaline rush that comes from doing a tri--but whatever it is, I'm having a hard time making myself work for it. This will be my second tri, (you can read about my experience with how I re-discovered God here: ...it's called "Finding God in Spandex" but this time, I'm down about 40 lbs from my heaviest weight ever. As the weight has been coming off, I've been working toward doing this triathlon, and I've felt like a rockstar: strong, athletic, healthy-- and finally able to push my body in great ways. Maybe my dream was a nudge in the ribs (or a kick in the pants) to get moving with it again....

In two days, I fly out to Minnesota for a trip months in the making. I was selected to attend a week-long conference called "Writing and the Pastoral Life", and I'm so excited I can't stand it. The workshop (maybe that's a better word for it than conference) is for 12 of us, and it will be an intense place for us to meet and discuss the writing projects we're working on. I'm looking forward to those things, but oddly, that's not what I'm looking forward to the most. I got the schedule yesterday, and I was thrilled to see that there were scheduled places for prayer, solitude, and reflection. Not only that, but because the event is so close to an abbey, we get to pray with the monks. I've realized that I'm a person for whom ritual is quite helpful and meaningful, especially with regard to my spirituality. I'm excited to be able to pray in what I hope will be a new/helpful way for me. But I'm also just really excited about the idea of some time to be quiet and reflect. As an introvert pushing herself to dwell within the extroverted role of pastor, sometimes all the noise and chaos seems to drown out God's voice. Leading worship every Sunday makes it harder for me to worship on my own, and the truth is that I'm starting to dry up a little. I hope this is a time of renewal and replenishment!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A New Space

Sometimes, you just need a change. Sometimes, you just need to run away, and try something new.

I guess that's where I am. I need a place where I'm not always a pastor, but am simply a child of God, looking for my path. I was blogging at underthesteeple.wordpress.com and that was nice, but it's not giving me space to ponder all the things I want to ponder. Lately, there have been a lot of things on my mind, but they haven't fit neatly in that space, so I've left them unsaid. And in the words of the great philosopher Shrek, "Better out than in, I always say!" If you've been following me over there, I'm still keeping it...but mostly for posting sermons.


So here I am--not just the neatly cleaned up and well-theologically groomed pastor that folks see on Sundays, but the other parts too.